Above-the-line marketing

What is Above-the-line Marketing or ATL Marketing?

Definition: Above-the-line marketing is defined as an approach to marketing that takes an individual or campaign above the mainstream. The core element of this approach is audience segmentation to find out what potential customers think about you and your product or service.

Above-the-line marketing is a method of communication in which you use mass media to get your opinion out there to a large audience. It is used to get the word out about your product/service/party/idea, and it often comes with a message that will appeal to many people. It aims to influence how consumers think about your business or product straightforwardly (often very few words).

Above-the-line marketing is a marketing strategy that is used by highly successful businesses. Many businesses are using this kind of marketing to generate more leads for their business in a short period. 

This type of marketing is used for new products, or products and services in the product category that have not yet seen a lot of consumer action. In simple terms, it is a form of advertising that is given rather than being received. For example, a company offers to send you coupons for free products in exchange for your email address. As a consumer, this might be attractive because he may be interested in finding out about other offers a company may have somewhere in their ad campaign. Hence, the need for an EARLY BIRD marketing campaign comes into play.

As opposed to selling, the goal of advertising is that participating consumers are persuaded into buying your product or service by appealing to their emotions rather than their reason. 

Above The Line vs Below The Line Marketing

  1. Above the Line Marketing tries to be innovative; it targets a specific audience through an inexpensive form of advertising. Below the Line marketing targets, a group tries to capture their attention through cheaper forms of advertising and will often rely on fan clubs, forums, etc.,
  2. Above-the-line marketing tries to use all methods to increase brand awareness and engagement. In essence, Above the Line Marketing focuses on spreading the message through all media outlets, through traditional print media, internet media, and social media. Below the Line Marketing instead focuses on letting your potential customers make their own decisions about your company, why you are the best option for them, and what you can offer them.
  3. Above the Line tends to be more qualitative, focusing on creating a sense of community around your brand. Below the Line tends to be more quantitative, focusing on obtaining numbers for marketing purposes.
  4. While above-the-line marketing strives to get your message out there, hoping that someone will purchase something from you, below-the-line marketing is more targeted and focuses on generating leads and conversions.
  5. Above the Line Marketing targets a small group of people with a specific message or product and tends to be more straightforward in how it’s delivered. Below the Line Marketing targets a much wider audience but is more likely to be more jargon-filled and often less directly connected to the main point being made.

Elements of ATL marketing

  1. Television: Television is an effective advertising medium. It is a visual medium; therefore, it works better than other forms of advertising when getting an immediate reaction from the viewers. Once the viewer knows something is being shown on TV, they become more interested in it and pay attention to certain things relevant to the program.
  2. Radio: There are various advantages of using radio as a medium to advertise products. First of all, it is easy to reach a huge audience with just one advertisement. This is why radio advertising is becoming common practice for almost every business in today’s world. However, advertising on the radio offers affordability; other aspects make it superior to TV or newspaper advertising. With radio advertising, there are no closing times, and at the same time, small-time slots do not seem to be prohibitive because an advertisement can be present for longer.
  3. Print advertisements: Print advertisements are meant to influence consumers’ purchasing decisions more directly. These can typically be printed on any available surface and are usually very persuasive because they carry with them a greater potential for marketability or impact when compared with other forms of advertising (e.g., radio, TV, etc.).
  4. Outdoor advertising: One of the biggest and most noticeable of all the above-the-line marketing techniques is outdoor advertising. It is usually done in public places and is constantly on display, have a greater reach depending on the location. They include Flags, Banners, Wraps, Billboards, etc. Outdoor Advertising is normally done by businesses or organizations that wish to attract customers to their place of business without spending lots of money on advertising. Companies do this because it is cheap, and they can get better results by utilizing this method over others.

Through the Line Marketing

Through the Line Marketing, organizations attempt to gain the trust and attention of the audience by building an emotional connection with them. TTL aims to use human-centeredness, alignment, values, and tone to create competitive advantages for advertisers to achieve greater longevity via acquisition.

Research shows that a significant number of consumers will consider making a purchase, only to cancel their minds later, due to uncertainty or other factors. Creating and executing a marketing plan that promotes a culture of customer service through reminders, appeals, incentives, and direction, aiming to increase overall awareness and loyalty towards the brand.

The idea behind this concept is that you create a “line” of customers or prospective customers and then utilize a combination of inbound marketing, outbound marketing, social media, and whatever else may be available to you to bring these people into your funnel. In this way, you can create an experience for them that will either push them to make a purchase or encourage them to reach out to someone else who might be willing to purchase for them.

Through the Line Marketing is about creating awareness for your brand, product, or service through billboards, bus stops, light posts, businesses &persons, and other recognized public objects/images. It is a type of public relations that often involves messages conveyed through posters, bus stops, business displays, etc., about product features, price, delivery, or something else that could attract tourists.

Advantages of ATL marketing

  • Wider reach: The benefit of Above-The-Line marketing is that it can have a much wider reach than traditional forms of advertising such as newspapers or television. Established companies are using it to reach a much wider audience. For example, Coca-Cola, Nike, Ford, and Quicken Loans have launched channels dedicated to consumers directly.
  • Better Connect with the audience: The medium is the message. Whether you’re using a TV commercial, radio ad, newspapers, or blogs, every medium relies on visuals to communicate something. Above The Line (ATL) is a form of social networking which uses audio and visual techniques to better connect with your audience.
  • Effective Brand Building: Brand building is not only about reaching customers with an advertising campaign. It’s also about developing direct, personal relationships with customers. This way, you can become an active member of their social circle, talk with them regularly, and build trust. And this is precisely what Above-The-Line marketing does.

Disadvantages of ATL marketing

  • Costly: The main disadvantage of Above The Line marketing is that it is expensive for specific businesses or business owners. Even if it does yield positive results, it may cost a lot of time managing it. Every time a competitor mentions a company in his [other] medium of communication, his website, TV, etc., business owners spend their time and money on such things even though they may not yield any results. This phenomenon has arisen because of the obsession for reaching the top and getting great results.
  • Shifting Trends: Blogs and online magazines have replaced newspapers and magazines that have proven themselves repeatedly as the top authority on whatever topic is of interest. The traditional newspaper and magazine are no longer considered the primary source of news by any means. 
  • Difficulty in measuring ROI: It is challenging to measure the results. So, even if you spend a lot of money, you won’t necessarily know how effective it was because getting the results is tough to measure by yourself. It is usually time-consuming and expensive to track and measure ROI.


This approach is fairly simple but effective and has been practiced by many large corporations for many years. It works by looking at the large groups of consumers across a nation or geographic area to understand their likes, dislikes, attitudes towards a product or service, attitudes towards advertisers or media outlets, attitudes towards social situations, and so on. If these factors tip in your favor, you’ll be able to significantly increase your chances of being noticed by people. 

Above-The-Line marketing uses a specific direction given by the company through its products to improve sales and bring in new clients. The above-the-line marketing has been around since before the internet was popular and is one of the best ways to build your brand awareness.